What gave you the idea to start the AAKS brand?
I grew up around basket bags as a child in Ghana, I used to give them as gifts and also use them for storage. I remember having a lot of ‘I wish it was more like this, I wish it was more like that’ moments… I wanted it softer, almost foldable and also more colourful with blends of colours which were tasteful and modern with a beautiful finish and detail.Building on this idea I started researching into bag designs and fibres and found a lot of attractive benefits which were in line with my vision and ethos I had for my dream brand.
I established A A K S after seeing a gap in the market for beautifully handcrafted bags. I knew I wanted to go out on my own and pull together all my passion and talents to create something unique that would be fulfilling both personally and professionally so I embarked on my journey to Ghana to make this happen.
What is your mission and main message that you'd like to get across?
I would like customers to know A A K S is a luxury accessories brand that creates handcrafted quality bags in modern styles whilst maintaining the spirit of Africa through traditional methods of weaving with bright exuberant colours. Our design philosophy prioritises our attention to detail, authenticity of technique and ethical values to shape a truly unique product. Each collection silhouette tells a different story through detail, colour and shape.We maintain control over every stage of the design and production process to ensure that the end result is imbued with the spirit and soul worthy of the A A K S stamp.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I seek inspiration from everything around me, be it sunsets, nature, architecture or people. I have a lot of random inspirations through out my journey, the funny painting by the road side or the beautiful mud houses in Bolgatanga. It helps me to broaden my perspective.
Where do the raw materials come from and how easy is it to source?
Raffia is the raw material used for all our bags and it proved to be the most difficult fibre to find in Ghana. Serendipitously, after travelling throughout the country in search of the elusive fibre I found it on our family farm in Southern Ghana. It was being grown minimally and only sold to string bead vendors. The fibres being an organic, natural, renewal and biodegradable fibre was an inherent ethical value which was attractive to me and very much in line with the vision and ethos I had for my brand.
How long does it take to train someone to make a bag?
Weaving is passed down from generation to generation and my main role is to refine the weavers skill and techniques but not to change it. I train my team of weavers to have an eye for detail and weave to the best quality and standard they can so this is an on going training process.
How does the local community benefit from your business?
Through my work in the North of Ghana, we impact the community greatly by providing employment to the local community and ensuring the continuity of weaving as an art/technique that can be passed down to the younger generation. We also encourage weaving to be valued as a major income earner for many in the cooperative. I hope that our brand will go someway in contributing to the revival and sustenance of weaving as a thriving art.
Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
I want to see my business to be a recognisable fashion brand in Africa particularity and worldwide. I want to grow my customer base steadily and increase my brand awareness.